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Brunswick Sewer District uses electric car to map system

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Brunswick Sewer District uses electric car to map system

BRUNSWICK — Expect to see a small, white, nearly silent two-seat electric vehicle cruising the streets of Brunswick this summer. 

It's not the Google Maps car, but it's close. 

The Brunswick Sewer District intends to use the car to help create a detail-rich map of its system using satellite coordinates.

It purchased the used vehicle from a Massachusetts public school for $3,000 in January, and recently finished applying Brunswick Sewer District stencils.

The district hopes to couple its seasonal repair work on broken or cracked pipes with compiling data on the depth of each manhole, what lines it connects to, and, using cameras, the condition of those lines, Director Leonard Blanchette said. 

The district has been using a geographic information system for the last 10 years to plot its 60 miles of sewer lines, but so far hasn't gotten beyond mapping out the 1,300 manholes around town, Blanchette said.

District employees repair small cracks in sewer lines with two- to four-foot lining made of felt and resin installed on the inside of the pipe.

Ordinarily, employees are idle for the two or three hours it takes the lining to cure and seal the pipe, Blanchette explained. 

Now, when employees go out to repair a cracked pipe, they'll take the electronic car with them, and use the time spent waiting for seals to dry to travel the surrounding area and collect data.

The district's board decided that investing in an alternate vehicle, rather than the full-size pickup truck crews usually use, would be an inexpensive way for employees to go from manhole to manhole, Blanchette said.

Last year, district employees made about 40 pipe repairs in Brunswick and Topsham, he estimated. 

The compiled data is expected to give the district a comprehensive overview of the system's overall condition,  Blanchette said, enabling it to come up with a long-term plan for repair and replacement.

He said it is expected to take at least two years to map out the entire system.

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @mcguiremidcoast.